Tuesday, April 24, 2007

DrJ´s European Travel Tips for Native English Speakers

1. You are not the only people who understand English.

2. Being a native speaker does not ipso facto make you important.

3. Although there may be a large tourism industry after your money, it does not give you the right to act like an obnoxious twat.

4. You are not the only people who understand English.

5. There is no excuse for being a loud, drunken imbecile. You look just as stupid as you do at home.

6. So the local shop owners English isn´t as good as yours? They´re still at least one foreign language better than you buster.

7. You are not the only people who understand English.

Friday, April 20, 2007

DrJ jets about (again)

I´m off again! Just a short trip. 4 days in Florence staying with Permanent HoliDave and his mates who´ve rented a flat there for a month. If anyone´s interested look on Google Earth (or maps.google.com if you haven´t downloaded it) for Florence; lungarno soderini. That´s the street I´m staying on! Cool, huh?

Oh, and or those that´ve tried to call me in the last two weeks, sorry I haven´t been around. I´m once again on a short contract doing some work at a company here and so I´m at work and in bed early - both useless for trying to get the whole timezone thing worked out with Australia. But that should be over in another 2 weeks and then I´m back to being an out of work bum and can Skype to my hearts content.

Sorry for this highly newsy post. Hopefully Dave will provide me with some tall tale fodder to fill up my depleted blogging reservoirs. If you´re really lucky I may tell you about the horse botherer. But that can wait for another time.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Architecture and other lofty pursuits

We spent the easter weekend in Dessau, something which led to a general expression of horror from friends and colleagues. "But WHY would you want to do that to yourself?"

Okay, so it´s a prime example of the sheer ugliness of the former East, but there are also a couple of gems which we trundled on to have a look at. The Combi van survived the trip, all two hours of the drive, and we camped in it just outside of town. Probably not the most intelligent thing to do on the last real weekend of winter, with an overnight temperature of 0 degrees and exactly 3mm of insulation between my sleeping leg and the cold metal shell of the car. There was the occasional 3am exclamation of "ARRRGGHHH", or the even more eloquent "Bloody hell!", when the protective blanket covering slipped and I found my thigh frozen to the wall.

Dessau is the home of the Bauhaus, the source of all modern architecture. It was somewhat disappointing until I managed to get the whole thing n context. Although these buildings are just kind of ho-hum compared to what we have now, at the time they were as foreign and weird as a flying saucer landing on Potsdamer Platz would be. And to see photos of Gropius, Klee, Kandinsky and Feininger standing side-by-side on the roof of the Bauhaus really drove home what an amazing centre of art the place had been 80 years ago.

After we´d done all the modern(ish) stuff, including the only garage with World Heritage protection (it was part of Gropius´s home which was bombed in WWII and is the only bit still standing), we trundled down the road a bit to see a castle.

The whole area seems to be covered with castles, something neither DrH nor I had realised before, and is actually really beautiful. Had it not been so cold, and we´d had a bit more time, we would´ve done a big bike tour through the region. As it was, we settled with just Oranienbaum, a baroque castle in an amazingly small village. it was really quite weird to drive into this tiny, very east German-looking town, turn a corner and be standing in front of this. Of course, it´s undergoing reconstruction work, so half was covered in scaffolding - but it was still a pretty outstanding building.

That was the only castle we made it too on this trip, so I guess we´ll be going back for a weekend in summer to see Mosigkau, Georgium, Luisium and W├Ârlitz. I love it that the former East has so many gorgeous places that escaped destruction, and somehow even the notice of the West. It gives me the chance to feel like I´m discovering something new, which is a feeling I rarely have in the more touristy areas like the Rhein valley or Neuschwanstein. And that´s pretty cool.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Okay USA, you may think you´re up there with Sanjaya but Germany whipped your arse YEARS ago

Just so you know, I stopped being involved in reality TV years ago. But how do you ignore the Sanjaya effect throughout the internet?

So now I will take a moment to introduce the non-German audience to Germany´s Sanjaya, a young man by the name of Daniel Kublbock who caused many schnitzel-eating citizens to battle vainly to hold onto their potato-heavy lunches.

As you are no doubt aware, the wonderful world of modern media ensures that there is no such thing as a unique TV show. The Office has been remade in at least 3 countries, Ugly Betty´s name was Lisa when it started here several years ago under the guise of Verliebt in Berlin and don´t get me started on that guessing game for grownups called Deal or No Deal. So American Idol also has it´s Australian Idol as well as it´s Norwegian (we all remember the Hobbit) and in Germany it´s called Deutschland Sucht Den Superstar (or "Germany Searches for the Superstar").

To cut a long rant short here we have some priceless Daniel Kublbock moments:

1. The original audition

2. Another Day in Paradise (truly, a must hear)

3. Unchained Melody (yep it gets better)

4. Satisfaction (I certainly can´t get no)

This guy made it to third place AND got a record deal. A year later he also brought out his autobiography, which, thrilling reading though I´m sure it is, I still haven´t gotten around to.

So just in case you were thinking Sanjaya is something special, even in a slit my own throat kind of way, I just wanted you to know that it´s a been there, done that and we REALLY don´t have to see it all again.